Friday, December 31, 2010

The Marathon Diet

If I was a betting woman (actually, I am – I just never win – 20 trips to Vegas in the past 8 years and all I’ve got to show for it are some worn out memories and that fatherless child we never speak of), I’d say that the majority of New Year’s resolutions focus on losing weight. Eating better. Exercising more.

I like to state the obvious.

I don’t need to lose weight. In fact, I could stand to gain some in the chest area if you know what I mean. I probably don’t need to exercise more. Maybe smarter, but not more. I can, however, stand to eat a bit better. And, cut back on my wine.

Here’s the thing. When it comes to eating well, we do a pretty good job around here. Home cooked meals 90% of the time, a minimal intake of processed foods, a wide variety of items consumed, moderation in all things. I will admit, however, that when my training season hits, I don’t alter my eating habits as much as I should.

Marathon training takes it out of you, physically and mentally (and crappily). Again, I state the obvious. Thousands of calories are burned and fuel stores are quickly depleted. If you’re me, those calories and fuel stores are left on the side of the road in a steaming heap. 

I’ve read a ton about how to fuel prior/during/after training runs and races. About how to hydrate properly. What I haven’t read as much about, however, is how a runner’s overall, everyday diet needs to change while they are training.

If you have a healthy and nutritious eating habits already, is it not enough to just add more calories to your diet? Nope, it’s not. You also need to focus on ensuring that the types of foods you take in are filling those holes left by hard training.

A training marathon runner should be consuming a diet that is composed of between 65% and 70% carbohydrates. A typical marathon training diet is one that is around 65% carbohydrates – 25% protein – 10% fat {source}.

I have to be honest. I pay attention to carbs consumed during long runs and protein intake after. That’s it. I haven’t given much attention to changing my overall diet during training with the exception of just eating more. Let this be a goal in the SUAR world. So, if you have a book you love that gives good advice/recipes in this area, let me know.

My hugest, biggest, most ginormous goal for 2011? Return to running healthy and injury free and stay there. This will involve dietary changes, training changes, attitude adjustments and balance.

Awhile back I posted about the DVD “Eating,” which encourages people to move to a strictly plant based diet. Lots of you left really insightful comments regarding the subject. I am going to send the DVD onto Amanda at Running Hood for her to watch and pass on. Amanda, email your address to Amanda said:

I've been wanting to switch over to eating a plant based diet for some time but it so hard. My husband would surely go for it if I just made the decision and cooked vegetarian meals but I just have not made that leap yet. We do eat mostly organic and especially when it come to fruits, veggies and meat. I love all 10 of her points.... I'd be interested in watching this video.

Do you have resolutions involving changing eating habits, losing weight or tweaking exercise regimens? Do tell.


  1. I have a hard time incorporating fresh veggies in my winter diet ~ spring and summer time is so much easier. I am hoping to find some vegetarian inspired recipes to try this winter....packed with a protein punch. Have any recommendations???


    1. Cảnh tượng này phát sinh quá nhanh, nhanh đến mức khiến đám người Vương Trác trợn mắt há mồm. Vương Lâm xoay người, nhìn Vương Trác, khẽ cười nói:

      - Vương Trác, ngươi nhận ra ta không?

      - Tiền bối… Người… Ngài là…

      Vương Trác ngẩn người một chút lập tức nhận ra Vương Lâm chính là người Hóa Thần ở Hằng Nhạc sơn trước đây. Vương Lâm lắc đầu, nói:
      dong tam mu lậu cho thuê nhà trọ cho thuê nhà trọ nhạc sàn cực mạnh tư vấn pháp luật qua điện thoại công ty luật ở hà nội số điện thoại tư vấn pháp luật dịch vụ thành lập doanh nghiệp
      - Nhiều năm như vậy không gặp, ngươi đã tới Kết Đan hậu kỳ. Mà thôi, ta giúp ngươi một lần, giúp ngươi Kết Anh!

      Nói xong, tay phải Vương Lâm khẽ động, cách không đặt tại mi tâm của Vương Trác.

      Phong ấn trong đầu Vương Trác lập tức bị đánh tan. Ký ức của kiếp trước giống như hồng thủy bao phủ hắn. Hắn thân mình nhoáng lên , dường như đột nhiên trở lại thời quá khứ.

  2. I would LOVE to lose this darn 10 pounds I've had for the last 7 yr!! Not sure how to do it being I already eat well. I've been tempted to try some vegetarian recipes but I'm married to a meatasaurous. Maybe more running will help. I have no idea!!

  3. ^^^ I'm right up there with Mamarunsbarefoot, I'd love to get rid of the 10 lbs I've been trying to get rid of forever. It's so funny to think about having to eat MORE :)

  4. We got a juicer for Christmas and I plan to tear it up in 2011 with that. Excited about the possibilities, but I am a nerd.

  5. Good Post Beth! I'm likely the ONLY person in the running universe who doesn't lose weight during marathon training. In fact, I weigh 6 pounds more now than I did before I started running a couple of years ago. Apparently I fuel well!!!

    Resolutions-I have to cut my caffeine intake. I LOVE coffee. I can give up wine, chocolate, sugar (kills me), even sex if I don't get my way-ha! I NEED my coffee fix. I'm a very healthy eater for the most part but I need to drop about 5 pounds to get to a more ideal race weight and need to figure out how to do that SMART. Broken hips are NO fun-hey!!

    Have a great New Year! Here's (insert wine raised wine glass) to a happy healthy 2011 for you!!!!

  6. I've thought about my resolutions and already posted some. They mostly revolve around better overall health (i'm thin, but I could use some muscle!) and taking my running from a lonely quest to the racing world. I've got myself booked for a half on Feb 20th so here goes! (I should say that it has been booked for a while, this was not a new years resolution half marathon...i would die).

  7. GIving up some sweets and cooking at home more often. We don't eat out a lot but we live off "freezer food"! I am going to make an effort to cook more "real" meals and stop using running as a reason to eat mini candy bars all day and 2 cupcakes a week.

  8. in my first marathon training i discovered the secret to feeling not-like-poo after a long run. dill pickle chips. so salty and so good!
    sadly, that's about the only thing i changed during my training.

  9. I am going to continue to move to a more plant based diet. Fish will be the next thing to go at this point. I can replace milk and eggs easily too, but for my protein intake after excercise it's HoneyMilk and I just won't give that up.

    Since my change I have lost 6 lbs (3 weeks) and am definitely stronger and faster. I have much more energy than before as well. Not sluggish one bit and feel like I can keep pushing my body and my mind to boundaries once unknown.

    My cookbook should be out by January 15th. That is the goal date that I am putting on myself.

  10. It's the wine, man. I've definitely got to cut back.
    I've done really pretty good these last two months, but I want to really get gone...during training these next few months.

    Maybe I'll switch to beer. You have to have SOMETHING with your burger after a long team run or ride, right?

  11. The fatherless child you don't talk about! That one had me chuckling!!
    We use a juicer too, would recommend a commercial type. Also, trying to incorporate more root vegetables in the winter.
    I too weigh more now than before I started running but am more toned ?!?
    Really wanting to shed a few to become a more efficient runner
    This girl has some good ideas and features lots of recipes

  12. And, cut back on my wine.

    Heresy. Outright delusional heresy. I'm shocked, actually. I have no plans to change wine intake. Nor should anyone else. Wine is good for you.

    No really changes in diet planned, though I'm told mature cookies are very good. I wouldn't know. According to my wife, none of them make it out of infancy. Some of them don't even make it to the baked cookie stage. I'll keep you posted on this.

  13. This is an interesting topic. I know for sure I don't have a handle on this: I lost oodles of weight training for my first marathon, and I had none to lose - I just couldn't keep my weight up (this was probably because at the time my long runs were causing lots of nausea). Then for my second marathon training, I gained weight- fat, not muscle. Weird. It's evening out now, but I know I'm doing something wrong!

  14. Very interesting post. I have been toying with going vegetarian for a long time, mostly for environmental/animal rights issues not dietary ones. Training is the issue that is holding me back the most, I worry about getting enough protein. I know you can do it as a vegetarian it's just habit for me to look to meat. Maybe that is one thing I can work on in 2011. I have also set a goal to take off a few pounds, I think I will run faster if I am lighter. Can't wait to hear about what you learn! Happy new year Beth =)

  15. Resolutions = Goals. I have lots but they all revolve around better.

  16. woooo...the pressure is on to change things up around here now! Looking forward to watching it, making some life changes, and then blogging about my thoughts! :) Excited to have the sort of a nudge in to get me to take some action in what I say I want to do be better at. Thanks Beth. I'll e-mail you but didn't you put my address in your personal address book when I sent it to you to send me my SUAR sticker? I'm offended that you've already misplaced it. :) It isn't like you had more than a few to keep track of.

    Great and thoughtful post!

  17. Food intake is something I need to work on too. Pounds practically fell off of me when I was marathon training in 2010, and I didn't really want or need to lose weight. I thought they would come back on over the holidays, but they haven't. If I lose anymore, I'll be unhealthy and since training for marathon number two starts tomorrow, I NEED to stay healthy!

    I was a vegetarian/sometimes pescatarian for 7 or 8 years, but it was during marathon training that I started to crave meat. I now eat locally sourced meat about once a week, usually for dinner the night after my long run.

  18. Like you I have the food quality issue pretty much nailed. It's the quantity I have to work on. And the mindless throwing crap down the gullet sometimes.
    Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald is awesome!
    Happy New Year!

  19. All of my resolutions are about exercising better and trying different things. Like you, I cook and eat well enough of the time, so I don't really pay attention to exactly what I'm consuming. And I'm at the right weight for my body, so I have no need to lose weight.

  20. I am telling you, since I have switched to a plant based diet I feel better than ever. Everyone tells me it is just "too hard" and they don't know if they could do it, but to be honest, it wasn't hard at all! It was actually the opposite. I understand most people won't make the switch completely, but incorporating more plant-based foods (daily) makes a huge difference.

    2 Cookbooks I recommend for incorporating more VEGETABLES:

    *Color me Vegan: This is not just for VEGANS. It explains the benefits of various plant based foods based on their color. It's useful for ANYONE. Super informative and it teaches us how to make vegetables taste delicious in a thousand different ways.

    *The Vegan Table: Full of several traditional recipes as well as some really fun, unique dishes. It shows you that you can make DELICIOUS food without all the dairy and meat.

    :) Lately, I have been a Carb Monster and I love it.

  21. cutting back on wine, that may be hard. Buts it full of anti-oxidants! haha. I cook all meals for my hubs and his training. Its so important for recovery, etc. LIke you mentioned. This year, quality of quantity! Cheers.

  22. I've been moving my fam to a more plant based diet over the past year. We still eat meat, just less of it. My husband complains that he gets too hungry and so he eats a lot of post-dinner granola bars but, too bad for him.

    I'd like to lose the last of my baby weight in 2011.

    Happy new year!

  23. Cutting back on wine? Are you nuts??? All kidding aside, too much alcohol does make me sluggish and it ruins my training the next day so while I might LIKE copious amounts of alcohol, the practicality leaves a lot to be desired. I'm toying with moving toward a vegan diet, too - but it's tough when you live in a house full of carnivores!

  24. my favorite to juice are carrots! they're so sweet, you don't need to put any sweetener. =)

    happy healthy new year SUAR! =)

  25. I struggle with calorie intact. I eat well but need to eat more. And, like you, getting enough of the good stuff in during training is hard; I really don't enjoy eating and wish I could just IV everything into me or take a magic pill.
    I do need more vegetables. The reality is I don't run well after eating them (well, I run well but end up with GI problems so it's easier to just avoid them). Maybe I should make more of an effort in 2011.

  26. I really could stand to lose 10 lbs but the more I run the hungrier I get. So, to try and kick-start 2011 my hubby and I are going to start a 21-day cleanse on Sunday, which I read about in Outside magazine. The program, from the book Clean by cardiologist Alejandro Junger, consists of liquid meals of fresh juices, smoothies or soups for breakfast and dinner and lunch mainly of veggies, some quinoa or brown rice and legumes. No wheat, caffeine, soy, alcohol, nightshade vegetables, corn etc. It's supposed to clean out toxins and give you tons of energy, so we'll see. Hope we can keep it up for the full 3 weeks (especially without chocolate!)

  27. I need this... Thanks to Janette right above me. I'm about to go look at Outside Mag right now. I'm a fan of cleanses. I think they work great and help jumpstart eating better. They've always helped with getting rid of cravings like caffeine and eating a half loaf of bread for breakfast. :)

  28. I'm stoked to be in training mode... i could use to lose a few pounds! :)

  29. I swear it has nothing to do with New Years, but I'm currently on a weight loss mission. 10 pounds. Totally do-able. I'm using sparkpeople to do it. Do you know how bleeping hard it is for me to stick to a 1700 calorie diet?!? And THANK YOU for posting those guidelines for diet while training. I have never been anywhere CLOSE to that 65/25/10 split. Good thing to have in the back of my mind before training starts here in a few weeks.

  30. I gained about 8 pounds during marathon training :o( I can't believe how much I was eating, and I still felt hungry. Glad to say those 8 pounds have disappeared, but I would still like to lose another 8.

    I could totally see you writing a book about marathon training nutrition!

    I look so forward to reading your blogs!!

  31. I made a lot of improvements to my diet in the last few months of the year... unfortunately it all went down the sh*tter during the holidays. I am anxious to get back into my routine tomorrow and get healthy again. I feel so HEAVY right now. Ew.

  32. Check out a book called "The 80/10/10 Diet" by Dr. Douglas Graham. I've always wanted to lose a few pounds, but during Ironman training I gained them instead. Turns out I wasn't getting enough good calories and nutrition, and my body thought I was starving! Then I picked up this book, lost 20 pounds quite easily, and I've kept it off for 6 months. Plus, I feel full of energy! Good luck!